The rise of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) – a whole array of practices, products and approaches to health and illness1 – can certainly no longer be characterised as cultural fad or fashion. Changes in the use of titles (from ‘unscientific’ and ‘marginal’ to ‘complementary’ and ‘integrative’)
reflect a more substantive relocation and transformation of many of these medicines from the fringe to the mainstream of both community and professional health-care discourse and practice (Tovey et al. 2004).
The most recent reports from various late modern societies suggest the use of CAM is a widespread phenomenon amongst patient groups (Girgis et al. 2005) and the general public (Adams et al. 2003, Barnes et al. 2004), and one which is being allocated extensive out-of-pocket personal funding (MacLennan et al. 2002, MacLennan et al. 2006).
Quite apart from the ever-expanding range of self-care products and technologies, CAM is increasingly found in the solo or group practices of therapists working predominantly outside the state-sponsored health system. Yet, CAM practice is not confined to the swelling ranks of private therapists but is also beginning to make its presence felt in more conventional areas of healthcare delivery such as general practice, nursing, midwifery and even the more traditionally conservative conclaves of certain hospital specialisms (Samano et al. 2005).
PART I: Methods in practice
1. Qualitative methods in CAM research: a focus upon narratives, prayer and spiritual healing
2. Systematic reviews and CAM
3. Utilising existing data sets for CAM-consumption research: the case of cohort studies
4. Towards the application of RCTs for CAM: methodological challenges
5. Combining qualitative methods and RCTs in CAM intervention research
PART II: Issues from the field
6. Evidence and CAM research: challenges and opportunities
7. The practitioner as researcher: research capacity-building within the ranks of CAM
8. Public health and CAM: exploring overlap, contrast and dissonance
9. Involving the consumer in CAM research
Title: Researching Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Author: Jon Adams